The phrase “you can never have too much of a good thing” might ring true when it comes to shoes and sequins but not when it comes to cleansing your skin.
Let’s start with the basics. Cleaning your skin is fundamentally all about hygiene. By washing your face at night, you are removing a day’s worth of SPF, makeup and grime. By washing in the morning, you’re whisking away a night’s worth of sweat, dead skin cells and residual skincare. Both help to stop your pores from becoming blocked, prevent premature ageing by removing nasties from the skin and create a clear canvas for your other skincare. Win, win, win.
What could possibly go wrong? Well, it turns out that there’s more than hygiene to consider when it comes to cleansing. Think of cleansing your skin like walking a tightrope. Topple too far towards under-cleansing, and you’ll run the risk of causing a build-up in your pores. Topple too far towards over cleansing, and you run the risk of affecting the skin’s resilience. The skin microbiome can be upset, and the skin barrier function compromised. Signs of an impaired skin barrier and unhappy microbiome are redness, dryness and irritation.
The skin microbiome is a colony of teeny tiny organisms (mainly bacteria) that live on the surface of your skin. Sounds disgusting, we know, but don’t worry – these bacteria are friendly, and help to keep your skin working at its best.
The skin barrier function refers to the way in which it protects our bodies. If we over-cleanse, important oils and lipids can be stripped away, meaning skin is less able to do its job. Moisture can be lost, and bad stuff, like pollution, can sneak in.
Skin shouldn’t feel tight or uncomfortable after cleansing, and if it does, these are a good indication that you’re overdoing it.
Ultimately, our skin does a good job of looking after itself. Think of skincare as offering a helping hand rather than running the show. For this reason, cleansing once in the morning and twice in the evening to remove makeup and SPF, is more than enough – even if your skin is oily or spot-prone. Cleansers should be there purely to support your skin’s good work, rather than dismantle its barrier and microbiome. Lesson learnt.